Last night the entire TFA Delta Corps was invited to attend a Catfish Fry in the community of Greenville (30 minute drive south from Cleveland/ DSU) right on the bank of the Mississippi River. The "fry" was a welcome and a celebration in our honor, as well as a way for us to celebrate and learn a bit more about another area of the Delta via some native cuisine, conversation with some locals, and simply taking in the new surroundings.
From the very moment I stepped out of the car, I was melting...literally. The heat index was somewhere around the high 90s WITH humidity. Everyone, including myself, sucked it up found some shade and put a smile on because this event was truly a warm welcome with the best of intentions despite the sweltering outdoor venue. I grabbed an ice cold soda and a few strips of catfish dabbed with some hot sauce and lemon juice, some coleslaw (or just "slaw"), and a scoop of southern-style baked beans. As I was eating the spicy tangy, salty fried catfish in alternating bites with the barely still cool coleslaw, it hit me. This is just one of the many reasons Southern folks relly do like to take things slowly. I wanted to savor every bite of that soul food. Flavors were intense, but subtle, but new, and somehow familiar. It all just made sense in that moment. Sitting with the river nearly 50 feet way, the sun scorching down, the blues band playing a steady rhythm to match the mood f all in attendance, and a slight breeze offering a little relief I found myself in an almost euphoric state. I was so happy in the purest sense of that word--happy--while having that experience. I felt no need to rush to the next thing on my to-do list. I felt no pressure to call, text, email etc. anyone. I felt no pressure at all. Perhaps, in the few hours that I was able to truly let go of my typical frenetically paced self, I was able to feel a bit of the heartbeat of the South and what makes the Delta captivating to so many people.
I still love the upper northeast. I miss NY and NH everyday. However, I just may let myself love the Delta too.